NEWS RELEASE

HIGH TECH MEETS METAL PLOW: THE SCIENCE AND ART OF WINTER OPERATIONS

State Highway Deploys More “Eyes” on Road; Additional Camera Feeds and Dozens of Portable Cameras Help Eliminate Blind Spots 

(November 26, 2013) – During the last quarter century, State Highway Administration’s (SHA) winter operations have progressed from thumb-tacks on a paper map and phone based command-field operations to a sophisticated network of high-tech cameras and pavement sensors feeding into a state-of-the-art Operations Center.  
 

SHA recently expanded its real-time traffic camera network with an additional 15 state-owned and 58 local feeds, which helps operators access real-time road data and deploy crews and equipment.  Additionally, SHA is securing more pavement sensors to add to the existing network throughout the State.

“Using the latest technology and integrating it with SHA’s existing equipment will help us keep travelers safe,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters.  “The more ‘eyes’ we have on the road, the better our ability to pinpoint problem areas and deploy a rapid and precise response.”

The newly acquired cameras and feeds bring the number in SHA’s network to nearly 700 camera images from state and local roads. CHART’s (Coordinated Highway Action Response Team) emergency response vehicles also have portable cameras that will help SHA handle incident specific situations. Additionally, SHA has 39 weather stations with pavement sensors and equipment, making it possible to monitor pavement temperatures, air temperatures, moisture and salinity on roadways across the State. 

Combined with a fleet of plow trucks driven by experienced maintenance and contractor forces, SHA is prepared for whatever winter precipitation develops.  In time for this season, SHA purchased two “double wing” plows – trucks with a front blade and a blade on both sides of the truck.  SHA will use its three double wing plows and a “tow plow” along interstates in Western Maryland and the Frederick area. 

“It is important to stay far back from plow trucks treating roadways,” added Ms. Peters.  “Don’t Crowd the Plow is the best advice we can offer drivers.  Trying to pass these large 20-ton trucks is dangerous and could result in major damage to your much smaller vehicle if you collide.”

Before the Storm

Much of the pre-storm planning for winter operations takes place days in advance of predicted winter weather. SHA may treat interstates in advance of a storm using salt brine, which is a concentrated salt water solution.  It is sprayed onto roads several hours or up to a few days prior to a storm, leaving a thin film of salt on the pavement.  Pre-treating with salt brine helps prevent ice and snow from sticking or bonding to the pavement at the onset of a storm and allows maintenance crews to be ahead of the game. Pre-treating will not take place if a storm is forecast to begin as rain because the brine solution will wash off and be ineffective

There are 14 salt brine facilities and 94 salt barns throughout Maryland.  Salt barns are filled with a total of 380,000 tons of salt and nearly 900,000 gallons of salt brine to treat the more than 16,000 lane miles SHA-maintained roads.  

Communication

SHA works hard to keep roads passable during snow storms so that access to critical services, such as hospitals, can be maintained.  SHA reminds everyone to “Know Before You Go – Especially in Ice and Snow.”  Maryland now has free 511 traveler information.  Call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit: www.md511.org  for current travel information. Sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511 on the website.  Remember to use 511 safely - Maryland law restricts hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.

Travelers can also plan ahead before heading out by logging onto the cyber highway at www.roads.maryland.gov and clicking on “CHART.”  The CHART website offers travel information, snow emergency plans, real-time traffic camera views, weather information and average travel speed maps.

Winter weather can present particular challenges for drivers of big rigs. With the help of a downloadable mobile phone application available at www.roads.maryland.gov, truck drivers can access emergency parking during winter storms. SHA created a list of safe parking areas available when snow reaches six inches.

Finally, access SHA on social media through Twitter @MDSHA and on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/MarylandStateHighwayAdministration.  The social media platforms are staffed Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and during major emergencies and storms.

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Click here to visit SHA on Facebook!  Click here to follow SHA on Twitter!  Click here to follow SHA on Pinterest!  Click here to view SHA's Channel on YouTube!  Click here to view MD 511
 
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